(This story was originally published on 6 July 2022. It is being republished from The Quint's archives in light of the Faridabad Police apprehending two minors in connection with the case.)
(Trigger Warning: Descriptions of homophobia and suicide. Reader discretion advised.)
“If I had even the mildest headache, he would quickly make a cup of green tea for me. Now? Now, I am only left with his memories,” said the 41-year-old, almost five months after her teenage son died by suicide, at their Faridabad residence.
The 16-year-old died by suicide on 25 February, and left behind a purported suicide note in which he alleged that he was sexually assaulted and bullied by students in his school over his sexuality. In the note addressed to his mother, he had written:
"Dear mumma, you are the best mom on this planet. I am really sorry that I couldn’t be more brave. This school has killed me, specially the higher authorities."The teen had written in his suicide note
He named the senior academic coordinator of the private school in the note, adding that he did not want to live in this hateful world.
No charge sheet has been filed in the case yet.
Almost five months after the incident, the teenager's mother spoke to The Quint about waging a lone battle for justice, grappling with grief, and being relieved from service at the school where her son studied.
Was Discouraged From Pursuing Case Against School: Mother
An FIR was filed under Section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code against the senior academic coordinator of the Faridabad school where the teenager studied. The coordinator was suspended from school, and was arrested. A few days later, she was granted bail.
In March, the deceased’s mother who was employed at the same school was relieved from service until further orders. A notice from the school principal to her, dated 17 March, accessed by The Quint, read, “The senior academic coordinator has already been relieved of her duties from school to facilitate fair investigation/inquiry till further orders. It would be appropriate, therefore, to relieve you as well from your services at school… till further orders. It is imperative to uphold a positive environment for all students at school, with fullest peace and harmony in place as well, for effective inquiry.”
Over a call, the single mother said that she doesn’t have the time to look for a new job. “Who will fight the case? I have so much paperwork, and all the visits to the police station take up my time.”
The school principal did not respond to The Quint’s queries about the teenager's mother being "relieved from service until further orders." The story will be updated if she responds.
"For the first two months, I couldn’t process what had happened. Then I realised that I had to fight for justice for my son. Many people tried to discourage me from doing so because it’s a big school but that angered me even more," said the mother.
Almost five months on, the police haven't yet filed the charge sheet in the case, confirmed Sube Singh, PRO, Faridabad Police. He said, "The SIT investigation is going on and since there are school children involved, we want to ensure that there are no loopholes."
He said that the matter is taking longer to probe because the allegations are scattered. "We are investigating call recordings, notebook pages, and assessing if the handwriting is the same, among other things. There are many allegations but we need to back them up with evidence. The SIT is working on it and a chargesheet should be filed soon."
My son wanted to study fashion after school: Mother
The house, where the 16-year-old lived with his mother, is scattered with his memories – his intricate Mandala art, his journals, his favourite green tea sachets, his resin artwork, incomplete songs, and drawings and sketches across notebooks.
“My son was an early-morning person. Every morning, he would listen to Billie Eilish. He was also writing his own songs and wanted to cut an album,” recalled his mother.
Both mother and son shared a common love for art. “He had taken to creating mandala art, and I used to tell him his work was so fine and detailed. Even I wasn’t as good.”
Months before he died by suicide, the teenager had begun selling delicate resin art pieces via his social media accounts.
“He wanted to study fashion at the National Institute of Fashion Technology after school, he was also preparing for it. I had spoken to coaching centres too, you know. It was all supposed to begin in March,” she said.
Days before that, however, he died.
My Son Had Panic Attacks Due to Bullying: Mother
It was in August 2021 that the teenager first had a panic attack. “He was studying online when his heart started beating fast. It was then that he opened to me about the bullying he was facing at school. I rushed him to the hospital, and the doctor told me that what my son was going through in that moment was a panic attack,” said the mother.
Soon after, he was diagnosed with dyslexia and depression, and began taking therapy as well as medication, said the mother. Slowly, the 16-year-old began talking about his sexuality with his mother.
"He once asked me how I will react if he tells me he has a boyfriend, and I remember, I jokingly said that that means I would have two sons."The boy's mother
The 41-year-old's priority was creating a safe space at home, to build an atmosphere of openness and understanding, free of judgement. "He wanted to get his ears pierced, and we did just that despite some disapproval from his grandmother. We would shop for earrings together," she said.
At school, however, she claimed, things were rather dark. “The students used all kinds of slurs for him. They didn’t realise the impact of their jokes on my son. He would have panic attacks due to the bullying. And then one day, he told me he had been sexually assaulted too,” claimed the mother.
In September 2021, she wrote an email to the school authorities about an alleged incident of harassment her son faced. "He had told me what had happened, and I drafted the email," she said.
In March this year, a close relative of the family claimed that the teenager was "repeatedly mocked and called gay." At the time, the relative had told The Quint, "There have been several instances of bullying. Not only was he repeatedly mocked and called 'gay', he was also stripped in the school bathroom."
The teen's mother claimed that the school authorities didn't take any action. At home, however, the mother-son bond strengthened as she attempted to create a safe space for him.
“My son put up a brave front through all this, but he was breaking inside. I didn’t know how broken he was inside,” she said, fighting back tears.
All by Myself Now, Only His Memories Remain: Mother
Almost five months later, she often finds herself sitting in her 16-year-old’s room – surrounded by all that he created. “I am all by myself now, only his memories remain,” she said.
Sometimes her son’s closest friends visit her. On other days, she gets invited to their birthday parties. “I can’t go but I sent the things he had made by hand as presents. They tell me how much it means to them,” she said.